Transcript of Republican weekly radio address
December 7, 1996
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana
Hello. This is Senator Dan Coats of Indiana.
Since the election in November, we have heard a lot of talk from President Clinton about bipartisanship, about searching for common ground between Democrats and Republicans. And there are some reasons to hope.
President Clinton won re-election on the themes of smaller government, family values and strengthening communities. These are fine, noble ideas. In fact, they traditionally have been Republican ideas. And if the president chooses to govern as he campaigned, he will find a cooperative Congress.
Yet we have reached a point where this discussion must get more specific. Vague campaign promises must become concrete proposals. Good intentions must become good laws. This is the real test of bipartisanship.
Balancing the budget, tax reform and better education are a few of the specific things that Republicans and Democrats, the president and Congress should be able to agree on. But today I specifically want to talk with you about how we can work together to address some of our worst social problems.
First, we can agree that bureaucratic government solutions to human problems, from homelessness, to drug addiction, family breakdown, juvenile crime, crisis pregnancies, all have failed. No one is confident any longer that expanding the great society government programs will actually lead to a better society.
Second, we must agree that this is not an excuse for America to be indifferent or uncaring to those who require our help. Our faith in "big government," as the president says, has ended. But our moral responsibility to those in need and particularly to women and children in desperate situations, has not ended.
Third, we should agree that there are people in groups outside of government, like the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity and countless others who are rescuing lives from addiction, dependence and despair. They treat people in poverty as individuals with dignity and potential, not numbers to be processed.
They often bring the commitment, love and patience that comes from their faith in God. And they achieve concrete results far beyond cold, bureaucratic federal programs.
Charity tax credit
I am convinced that this is one area where the stage is set for dramatic, bipartisan progress. I believe we can find creative ways to combine the reduction of big government with the strengthening of these private, compassionate, effective efforts, ways to both cut bureaucracy and help people.
I've proposed something called a charity tax credit. It would give every American taxpayer the ability to take $500 of what you owe in taxes each year and give it directly to a poverty-fighting charity in your own community, not send that money to a federal program in Washington, hoping that some of it filters down to the poor.
Instead, under this proposal, you could give these funds to a neighborhood charity that you know is working, where you can see lives being changed. Think for a moment. Would you rather give your tax dollars to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development or to Habitat for Humanity, to big government or to Big Brothers/Big Sisters?
This is just one idea, though I think it is a strong one. I want to take this opportunity to encourage President Clinton to join with the Congress in proposing and pushing this and other ideas that will promote real hands-on compassion as an alternative to the welfare state.
This is common ground both Democrats and Republicans can share -- promoting real compassion without wasting your money on endless ineffective federal programs. If the president is sincere about bipartisanship, this is a good place to start.
I'm Senator Dan Coats of Indiana with the Republican response.
Thank you for listening.
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